Wednesday 20 November 2013

Exploring the family tree

The history of the Cookes of Aldborough
November 2013

That post initiated correspondence with a number of people in the area with either an interest in the mill or the Cooke family and I have have made a few abortive attempts to work out the genealogy of the place, but to no real avail. It was a big family and they had a habit of using the christian names Thomas and William in successive generations, which is confusing to say the least.

So, in the great tradition of Capt Ahab seeking out the easy path and liking his history light I have decided to "stand on the shoulders of giants" and simply observe and recount the extensive research which has been undertaken in this field before - especially that undertaken by the Craske family and that of my cousin Steven.

I visited the Cooke family in Aldborough last week and they kindly walked me through their records, letting me make copies as I desired.

So, before I lose the order in my head, here are the generations from William Cooke who operated Glandford Mill on the River Glaven near Holt through to the present day:

William Cooke 1789 to 1883 (Glandford Mill)
married Anna Carter (1814) 1788 to 1835

William Cooke 1818 to 1899 (Aldborough Mill)
married Elizabeth Lee 1820 to 1891

William Cooke C1898

Robins ? to 1901
William  1848 to 1895
Henry Carter 1845 to 1911
Thomas Carter ? to 1917
Emily 1881 to 1931
Jane ? to 1917

William Carter Cooke presided over his large non conformist family in a seemingly patriarchal manner administered from the Mill House. There is a lovely account of life in the mill written by Clifford Craske based on his childhood memories. But more of that another time.

Thomas Carter ? to 1917
Married Ann Tidy (the first connection with the Tidy's from Croydon)

Thomas Carter Cooke

Thomas William
Kathleen (married John Grey)
Oliver Henry (married Anne Bray)
Enid (married Fred Morgan)

Thomas and Annie lived in a small cottage at the bottom of Thwaite Hill, with Thomas working long hours in the family Mill and Annie far from her more cosmopolitan roots in South London. She later moved to Wisteria Cottage near the Temperance hall but I don't think she ever moved into the relative luxury of the old mill house, which was pressed into business service soon after her son Tom took over during the First World War.  

Thomas William Cooke
Married Hilda Theresa Balls

Thomas William Cooke and Hilda Theresa Balls

Christine Priscilla (1929 - 2 days)
Margaret Arleen
Tom Margaret Arleen Cooke
married Charles Stuart Tidy (second connection with the Tidy's)

Andrew John Cooke

Andrew John CookeTidy
married Helen Wendy Singleton

Suzanne Elizabeth Joy 
Daniel Craig Anthony

In the absence of a son my grandfather prevailed on my parents to add Cooke into my name but there the Cooke strand comes to an end!

Now here is the curious twist. There has been a longstanding rumour that our family is linked to the Coke family of Holkham Hall, but all attempts to trace a firm link from both sides have so far proved to be unsuccessful. The family story is that a member of the Coke family broke away and changed their name to Cooke either as a result of some infidelity or religious reason (the Cookes of Aldborough are a long line of very strict non conformists)

If a link were to exist it must be at or before William Cooke of Glandford (1789 - 1883) when an "o" was possibly added to the Coke.

A look at the family tree of the Coke's is interesting:

It reveals that a Wenman Roberts assumed the name of Coke in 1750 as he inherited the estate. His male heir was Thomas William Coke (1754 to 1842) - 1st Earl of Leicester. His descendant was a further Thomas William Coke - 2nd Earl of Leicester (1822 to 1909) followed up by Thomas William Coke 3rd Earl of Leicester (1848 to 1941). There seems to be a bit of a Thomas / William pattern over successive generations in both families at the time.

So, if there were to be a link the likely touch point would have to be between Willam Cooke of Glandford (born 1789) and Thomas William Coke, 1st Earl of of Holkham, politician and agricultural reformer who had his estate 14 miles away. If you remember your history lessons, he was the Coke of Holkham who is credited as the pioneer of the agricultural revolution via the Four Crop Rotation and the use of fertilisers, alongside Turnip Townsend.

Coke's first marriage yielded three daughters but no son and heir, and his first wife died in 1801. After 21 years alone, and at the age of 68, he married Anne Keppel in 1822, his 18 year old god child. She had been brought to Holkham to partner Thomas William Coke's nephew and then heir William, but they didn't get on and so Thomas married her himself to the astonishment of all around, and she soon gave birth to young Thomas later that year removing William from the line of succession.

Could the nephew William Coke who didn't marry Anne Keppel have been related to William Cooke of Glandford - the ages of Anne Keppel and William Cooke would place them firmly into the same generation, but clearly they are not one and the same.

So, the story has persisted through the generations of the Cookes, the geography is right, the names are strangely similar and the dates could tally, but who know? Its an interesting thought.

Apologies for the long and rather convoluted post.

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